Thursday, 23 January 2014

Saltisford and Seasonal Thoughts

The weather has been most generous by remaining so mild for this time of the year, which encourages me to wish I had remained cruising at the beginning of November instead of tying up here at Kate Boats. Being mobile on the waterways is what we are all about after all.

But this conjecture is now with the benefit of hindsight, which is never our friend since it can very easily convince us on all occasions that whatever caused our action in the past was always the wrong decision.

By remaining here at a secure private berth for the four winter months, notwithstanding the knowledge that much of the waterway system will be closed for refurbishment anyway and the chances are that the weather will be challenging more often than not to any kind of movement, allows me plenty of time to catch up with relatives and friends. I don’t feel so bad at neglecting them in the Summertime then.

This period also allows one to experience the sheer pleasure of 240 volts shore side power for a little while, including the decadent bliss of using an electric kettle and toaster. One can relax briefly from the continuous anxiety of “What state are the batteries in?”

while another benefit is being able to get all those necessary engineering jobs that have niggled during the Summer  done by an engineer whose professionalism one knows to be the best. At Kate Boats because of other hire boat commitments, this may be a lengthy process to organise, but as long as it is all accomplished during the four winter months, who cares?

Last week engineer Rob fitted ‘Futurest’ very swiftly with a new pressure release valve in the top of the calorifier, which immediately allowed me to leave the freshwater pump on continuously without fear of it pumping over the side, in the course of twenty four hours, the total water supply on board; another anxiety had been quashed satisfactorily.

What sheer bliss there is in winter inertia!

On Wednesday the weather was very fine and warm after a cold and foggy day  previously. I had a bit of shopping to do and was just putting on my coat in preparation for a nice long walk as well, when I had an uncanny urge, because of my thoughts above perhaps, to take ‘Futurest’ out on the water. It was one of those swift decisions that I don’t make very often: “To hell with the shopping!” I said “Let’s take ‘Futurest’ out for a cruise!”

And it was a wonderful experience. Very leisurely my little ship and I chugged, at a very slow tick-over, on the same short journey that Janis and I had taken recently in her ‘Roots and Wings’, up through the two Cape locks as far as the Saltisford Arm. Turning round there for the return passage, we tied up briefly while I enjoyed an appetising pint of ‘Hooky’ Ale at ‘The Cape of Good Hope’ and was served with the most enormous helping of ‘Bangers and Mash’ in a Yorkshire Pudding base. It was delicious but almost too colossal for me to cope with.


DSCN0034  'Futurest' in the Top Cape Lock

At rest in the Cape Top Lock


I was amazed how easy the whole four hour journey was. Maybe it was the relaxed speed we were doing and the leisurely way  the whole operation was carried out but it seemed as if the effort needed from me was entirely minimal.


DSCN0035  A pair of self appointed guard geese

A pair of self imposed guard geese on the way to Saltisford


‘Futurest’ performed so brilliantly. I was at the controls but so little effort was required from me to accomplish what was needed that I felt she was in complete control. I know there was no wind whatever to harass us but so  easily did she steer herself not only along the canal but through the single gateway into the big locks, and as I hopped off with the centreline as she went in, she knew exactly how far to go without me having to stop her with the rope. I could swear she had a mind of her own and it was uncanny the feeling I had.

You know, even the throb of her engine was a happy very satisfied one, I recall.


DSCN0037  'Futurest' turning at the Saltisford Arm

‘Futurest’ turning herself around at the Saltisford Arm


I understand completely that over time one gets to know one’s ship very well and therefore the gained experience makes handling much easier. But one can nevertheless understand how seafarers of old through the centuries have superstitiously endowed their ships with an almost deified life of their own.

‘Futurest’ is special I’m sure.

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